Rockies sweep Indians, 6-3
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER ” The Colorado Rockies are finally out of the NL West basement.
The defending National League champions are not quite, however, out of the deep hole they dug for themselves.
Jorge De La Rosa struck out a career-high 10 and Willy Taveras had three hits and scored twice, leading the Colorado Rockies to a 6-3 victory Thursday night over the Cleveland Indians and a sweep of the three-game series.
De La Rosa (2-3) overcame a shaky start to surrender just three runs in six innings and walked one. Indians starter Jeremy Sowers (0-2) struck out four and didn’t walk a batter in six innings of work.
The Rockies’ 11th victory in the last 15 games moved them out of last place in the NL West for the first time since May 28. Colorado is tied for third with San Francisco, eight games behind first-place Arizona and a half game ahead of last-place San Diego in the West.
“Momentum is building, confidence is building,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “It’s not that we didn’t believe in ourselves, but we’ve been playing better. Everybody’s contributing.”
The Rockies are getting better results from their rotation. Since falling to 18 games below .500 on June 2, Colorado’s starters are 8-3.
“Whenever you can pitch a close game, you have a chance to win,” Taveras said.
De La Rosa kept the game close after he gave up a two-run homer to Ben Francisco in the first inning, allowing two hits over his final five innings.
“The first couple of innings he was trying a little too hard,” Hurdle said. “Once he got through the first, he got into a rhythm. He gave us what we needed.”
De La Rosa had his second straight solid start after being moved to the bullpen following a bad outing against Philadelphia on May 26.
“I was working with (pitching coach Bob) Apodaca on the side to command my fastball much better,” De La Rosa said. “I think that was the key.”
The left-hander came up with a big strikeout of Sowers in the fourth inning to end a threat, and his only mistake after that was giving up a solo homer to Casey Blake in the sixth.
By then, the Rockies’ offense had kicked in. Matt Holliday had two RBI singles to help give Colorado a 3-2 lead before Blake homered to tie it. Jeff Baker responded by homering for the third straight game to give the Rockies 4-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth. Colorado added some insurance in the seventh on RBI singles by Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe.
Brian Fuentes pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 13th save.
It was the Indians’ fourth loss in five games.
“We are disappointed,” Blake said. “We were playing pretty good baseball and certainly didn’t expect to come in here and not win a game. I felt we were in every game.”
Things looked good for Cleveland early. Grady Sizemore led off the game by beating out a grounder to second, and after stealing second, Francisco homered to left center to give Cleveland its first lead in the three-game series.
The Rockies got a run back in the bottom of the first when Holliday singled home Omar Quintanilla from second.
Colorado tied the game in the fourth when Atkins led off with an infield single, Hawpe hit a one-out double and Yorvit Torrealba singled to shortstop to score Atkins.
It was the type of clutch hitting the Rockies had been missing earlier in this season, but they’re not getting complacent about their recent success.
“I’m not sure if we’re comfortable,” Baker said. “Baseball will kick you in the teeth real quick. We’re still in a big hole. We’re trying to win series and see if we can get out of it.”
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The Aspen High School girls soccer team looks a lot different from the last time it played, with many new players and a new coaching staff. But winning has become part of the culture, and it’s so far, so good for the Skiers this spring.